With the high temperatures, extreme winds and low precipitation levels for 2012, many in western Nebraska are reporting dying trees.
According to Rachel Allison, district forester with the Nebraska Forest Service, reports of dying tress in the western part of the state have nearly tripled.
Even trees thought to be well established or drought tolerant are showing signs of distress. "Even though homeowners are aware of the drought, many are unaware of the consequences for their trees. Most assume the scarce rainfall will sustain their more mature trees because they believe their trees are established," explained Allison.
Spruce trees have reportedly been especially hard hit by the killer conditions. Other conifers such as pine, juniper and redcedar also have been affected, especially those located in windbreaks.
University of Nebraska Extension officials say pest problem are likely to increase to add to the issues facing drought-stressed trees. Borers and bark beetles are known to be attracted to drought-stressed tress, leading to small holes scattered throughout the trunk and branches further harming the trees.
In addition, drought-stressed trees also are susceptible to canker diseases, which cause scattered branch death and top kill.
The first thing officials are advising to help keep trees alive is a check of the soil moisture. One way to do that is to push a long screwdriver or medal rod into the ground. If it only descends 2 or 3 inches, the ground is too dry.
If the ground is too dry, run a sprinkler or soaker hose for several hours all around the tree until the ground can be penetrated 10-12 inches with the rod.
Officials say it is better to provide trees with a slow, deep watering more infrequently rather than giving them short waterings every day.
More information can be found by going to http://nfs.unl.edu/program-foresthealth.asp.